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Governor Signs Education, Railroad, Other Bills into Law
Improves Federal-State Cooperation on School Designations, Track Work


July 28, 2004

Juneau, Alaska - Governor Frank Murkowski signed 11 bills into law Tuesday, including legislation aimed at improving state-federal cooperation on efforts to improve Alaska's schools and to maintain Alaska Railroad tracks at intersections with state roads.

Senate Bill 358 allows the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to work more freely with the Alaska Railroad Corporation in cases in which railroad construction work must be done at the intersections of railroad tracks and state roads. The bill, sponsored by the Senate Transportation Committee, lets the department and railroad enter into agreements granting the railroad the right to do track work at such locations.

"The Alaska Railroad is an important economic and infrastructure link," the Governor said. "Everyone benefits from the railroad having state assistance in maintaining and repairing its tracks."

House Bill 405, sponsored by Representative Carl Gatto of Palmer, modifies the terminology used in state law to describe how well schools are performing compared to the descriptions used in the federal "No Child Left Behind Act." The bill also requires the state Department of Education and Early Development to provide information, by school district, about how much schools spend and how well they perform.

"In addition to providing financial resources and leadership, our efforts to improve the quality of Alaska's schools must include cooperation with federal law," the Governor said. "Aligning our school performance designations with ''No Child Left Behind' is a simple, but important step. In addition, publishing clear information about educational performance and funding holds us all accountable for the success of our schools."

SB 385 combines the Alaska Division of Emergency Services with the Division of Homeland Security under the new name, the "Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management." The bill also modernizes Alaska's civil defense statutes.

"Senate Bill 385 is critical to our efforts, in a post-9/11 world, to ensure both the safety of our homeland and the responsiveness of our government in the event of a natural disaster," said the Governor. "We are streamlining and focusing our efforts in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to keep Alaska prepared and to ensure public safety."

SB 30, sponsored by Senator Fred Dyson of Eagle River, requires a physician or other health care provider performing an abortion to obtain voluntary and informed consent as defined in the bill. The bill does not change the state's policy on abortion, but provides for women to have access to available information on all alternatives prior to making a final decision. The bill requires that this information be made available via the Internet to women seeking abortions.

HB 272, sponsored by Representative Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau, makes a number of corrections to the motor vehicle advertising statutes adopted in 2002. The bill prohibits dealers from advertising that paying less than the manufacturer's suggested retail price would save consumers money, prohibits a dealer from advertising a new vehicle unless the dealer has available a sufficient quantity of vehicles to meet reasonable demand, and requires notice if service operations work on commission.

HB 336, sponsored by Representative Kevin Meyer of Anchorage, changes existing law to provide that those who knowingly violate existing motor vehicle liability laws may not recover damages for the non-economic loss they may suffer while operating a motor vehicle. It also clarifies existing law so punitive damages do not need to be part of the mandated offers of uninsured /underinsured motorist insurance coverage and clarifies that the mandated offers of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage do not need to be made on excess or umbrella policies. This provision addresses recent court rulings that require punitive damage to be part of umbrella policies, a ruling which has led to insurance companies declining to offer certain policy options in Alaska.

HB 430, sponsored by Representative Beth Kerttula of Juneau, allows 18-year-olds to work at a hotel where alcohol is served, without parental permission, provided that they do not serve alcohol. Currently, individuals who are 18 years old must obtain parental permission, while 19- and 20-year-olds do not have to obtain such authorization.

HB 494, sponsored by Representative Pete Kott of Eagle River, authorizes and in some cases requires the use of electronic fund transfers for state disbursements.

SB 217, sponsored by Senator Donny Olson of Nome, requires informed written consent from an individual before his DNA is collected or DNA samples are analyzed or results are disclosed. The bill provides exemptions for certain purposes.

HB 83, sponsored by Representative Ethan Berkowitz of Anchorage, updates Alaska's current arbitration statutes by adopting the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act. The purpose of that act is to make arbitration more efficient and economical, while providing a fair process to the parties that promotes finality.

HB 56, sponsored by Representative Les Gara of Anchorage, allows the state to recover its enforcement costs and full attorney fees from parties that violate Alaska's unfair trade practice laws.


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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